After very much over-indulging with neighbours on Friday night, I was still feeling exceedingly delicate by the time my private started at 4.30pm on Saturday. The first song was so bad I think Julia was planning to send me back to the first beginner’s class …
But I somehow got it together.
Given I’m trying to bring more of my theoretical tango up to milonga standard, I opted to work on the calesita. I first did this in beginner and improver classes almost a year ago, again a few months after that, but it has never made it into my milonga vocabulary.
We worked first on the footwork. Fede showed me some very specific footwork which immediately made sense and seemed to work well: take the left foot behind and around, at about a 45 degree angle, then collect with the right foot, and repeat. That’s easy to remember and gives a consistent degree of turn.
Once I had that, we worked on the entry: slackening the embrace to signal to the follower to stay where she is while I get into position. The key technique issues for me here were:
- Bring my left arm with me so it points out of the circle, away from the gap between our shoulders
- Look outward to our hands
- Provide some degree* of lift to my follower, under her left shoulder with my arm and under her right armpit (or rather a little lower) with my hand
- Move smoothly from the entry into the pivot itself, so it’s a continuous movement for me, to give a smooth-feeling start for the follower
- Get enough momentum that the follower will pivot back in front of me when I stop
*That degree dependent on the follower’s level. An experienced follower will need only a small lifting sensation; a fellow beginner may need more support from my arm under her left shoulder.
Fede initially suggested no more than three steps, as any lack of balance on either part will be recoverable – but I very quickly reached the point where they told me to keep going. Of course, that’s an ideal situation, with a follower perfectly in her own axis so I only have to worry about mine, but it was still very encouraging!
They then added a planeo to it. Instead of just pivoting the follower back to face me, to then lead the same pivoting planeo we did last time – and which is already starting to feel comfortable. That actually felt like a super-easy combination, though Julia said I do need to work on several technique issues with the planeo:
- Ensuring my left arm pivots with my chest, as I had a tendency to leave it behind
- Take more time to ensure our chests reconnect before I lead the planeo, and keep that chest connection throughout
- Ensure my parada is a small one, just extending my toes to her foot, not my whole foot.
They then said that when the follower has completed the planeo, we’re almost back in the right position for a calesita, so it’s very easy to go straight back into another one. That did prove to be the case. And, of course, I could do it the other way around: lead the pivoting planeo as I do now, and then move into the calesita. Again, more connecting of the dots.
Both said that my calesita was at milonga standard; I shall find out at Los Angelitos tomorrow!
We just touched on a low boleo I’d done in a Tanguito group class ages ago. This is very similar to the planeo, but done a little differently:
- Side-step to left with parada, my right foot to follower’s right foot
- Dissociate to pivot my chest left, then quickly right while she is still moving left
- That ‘whipping’ sensation is what causes the free leg to swing around the floor
We’ll work on that properly next time.
Finally, we worked on something I first did in an embrace workshop with Fausto and Stephanie: opening and closing the embrace while walking. It seemed I could still remember how to do that, as Fede and Julia were quickly happy with that, and we then tried it in the cross, there my goal was to open the embrace in the final step of the cross. I shall find out next time what they have planned for that!
The lesson felt like fun as well as work. I think we’ve found the right mix now. Working only on technique makes a huge difference to my dance, but can feel like hard work, especially when fundamental technique issue generally see only small improvements each time. Doing something new, or revisiting something I don’t yet use in milongas, still gives plenty of opportunity for technique work, but in a more enjoyable way.
Playing with the follower’s free leg opens up a lot of ways to express the music, so I’m very happy with this theme. (They also briefly demo’d a gancho, another way to do this.)
I’m really looking forward to the next lesson!